Philippine authorities said online Chinese casinos had caused crime in the country to spike, told a CNN report.

Elmer Cereno, a spokesman for the Philippine National Police-Anti Kidnapping Group, said crimes ranged from kidnapping for ransom to extortion.

“In their free time, their Chinese employees often gamble at the casinos and end up in debt. They are then approached by loan sharks who offer to lend them money,” he explained.

When they fail to pay it back, the loan sharks kidnap them and get ransom from their relatives, he added.

These online Chinese casinos are called Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO).

PAGE 2019 (the Phil-Asian Gaming Expo) at SMX Convention Center in Pasay on July 12-14, 2019. Photo by Rappler

On October 2019, police rescued two Chinese POGO workers, whose families had been asked to pay ransoms ranging between 68,000 yuan and 80,000 yuan (about $9,800 to $11,500) for their release, according to a summary of the case seen by CNN.

They had been abducted from a hotel and held by Chinese nationals in Manila’s suburb, the report added.

Between January 2017 and October 2019, Philippine police dealt with 65 cases of kidnap-for-ransom.

All involving POGO workers or casino customers, leading to the arrests of 132 people, according to the Philippines police.

“Almost all the victims and perpetrators were Chinese nationals,” said Cereno.

Chinese citizens are lured to work in the Philippines for many certain jobs but they end up as POGO workers.

According to Ben Lee, of IGamiX consultancy, while on the job, the Chinese nationals are expected to approach prospective players.

They used social media chat groups and convince them to give online gaming a try.

Once players are hooked, they are encouraged to wager increasing amounts of money, he added.

The games are usually baccarat, blackjack and a sic bo–a Chinese dice game.

The POGO workers also fall victim to their own scheme.

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